Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Accountability Tuesday: 6/19/18

Good morning, my beloved long-lost blog readers!

My apologies for the hiatus from blogging but I have an awesome reason...




Matthew and I have been knee-deep in the house-searching and then home-buying process for the last two-ish months and it's been an absolute whirlwind of a summer so far!

Not only was finding a home stressful (homes sell in a matter of hours in our area), but once we found "our" home, the process of making an offer, getting approved by the bank, getting the home inspection, etc. was time-consuming and worrisome! There are a ton of moving parts to the process and it's probably the most expensive purchase we'll ever make so, yeah, kinda stressful! πŸ˜…

We absolutely love our new home and are excited to be homeowners! And I'm very excited to explore the area and find new running routes as my training picks up for fall races (so far, Harrisburg Half and probably WDW Marathon).

But, running/training has absolutely taken a back seat to the house stuff. All our time has been taken up with packing and cleaning and moving leaving little time or energy to run. I know I'll get back to my regular routine soon, but in the meantime, my weight has been creeping back up with the lack of regular physical activity.

Can you tell where I went on vacation?! ;-)

After a few weeks of travel in May, I gained about six pounds which was to be expected. Before vacation, I'd actually been doing quite well and my weight was on a downward trend, getting back to a number where I felt comfortable and fit.

But if you've been reading for a while you know that for me, "vacation + stress (from home buying) = weight gain." At this point in my weight loss/weight maintenance journey, I know this is normal. Life happens. My weight fluctuates from month to month, year to year, and it probably always will.

Still, I'm not super happy about my weight or my lack of training lately. But here's what I know for sure: I'll never stop trying. So, it's back to regular weekly weigh-ins, a training plan, and more consistent blogging here. Writing about running and weight loss is one of the ways I hold myself accountable and I'm usually much more consistent with both when I'm writing and posting regularly. Plus the blog turns FIVE YEARS OLD next month so I've got to plan something awesome to celebrate!

Ok, that's about it for this week's very unconventional Accountability Tuesday post! See y'all next week and as always, THANK YOU for reading!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

OrangeMud Review: Endurance Hydration Pack

Y'all - it's finally summer! And with summer comes my least-favorite running weather: heat, humidity, and so much sun. While I love summer for all those same reasons, the weather doesn't make it easy for running outdoors. Staying hydrated in the summer months is critical to staying cool in the heat. So, how do you stay hydrated on the run? Check out my review below for a pretty neat option for taking your H2O on the road with you this summer!

The awesome folks over at OrangeMud sent me an Endurance Hydration Pack to review for the blog and I'm excited to share my thoughts with you!

Full disclosure- I received this hydration pack from OrangeMud in exchange for an honest review on the blog. I was not paid or compensated in any way for this review. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own.

Another full disclosure- I've never run with a hydration pack like this before. I've used a handheld water bottle and a running belt with bottles but nothing like this.

Source: OrangeMud

When I first opened up the Endurance Pack, I have to admit, I was a little intimidated. The bladder (the thing that holds the water) looked like it was going to be heavy to carry and I was a little worried about the actual pack itself- I have small shoulders and was nervous that it wouldn't fit correctly or move around too much when I ran.

Check out all those pockets. 😍

Despite my slight intimidation, I was so impressed with all the pockets/storage on this pack. On the front left-hand side there was a space big enough for my Samsung Galaxy 9 (which is a pretty big phone) and on each shoulder there were little pouches for GU or other gels. On the right-hand side there was another large pouch with a clip for my car keys. Pretty much everything I would take on a long run with me can be stored in this pack- plus WATER!

So. Much. Storage.

After filling up the bladder and loading it into the back of the pack- staying in place with a velcro strap- I tried it on. I had watched some videos about fit on the OrangeMud youtube channel so I felt comfortable adjusting the straps for a solid fit.

Another cool thing about this pack- totally adjustable front straps. You can criss-cross them, move them up or down, really anything to make the fit comfortable for you. As a woman blessed with lots of curves, I appreciate the multiple points of flexible adjustment!

Once I had the fit about where I wanted it, it was time to take it for a short run. A recent trip to the beach gave me the perfect mix of heat and humidity to try this pack out and see how it did on the run.

The first few minutes of the run were a bit awkward as I got used to the feeling of having something on my back while I was running. Despite my earlier adjustments, I did need to pull the side straps a little tighter to accommodate some minimal movement once I'd started to run. However, after about five minutes, I honestly forgot I was wearing it.

The fabric was comfortable and breathable- it was super sticky and salty running along the ocean but I never felt like anything was chafing or irritable on my skin. Having the extra large pocket for my phone was great. Not once did it I even feel the weight of it in the pack and it was nice to be able to have quick access to it.

For the front straps, I found it most comfortable to have one high across my chest and one low kind of across my diaphragm. I'd pulled the side straps as far as I could and then tucked the excess strap underneath the part of the strap that was taut. There was no movement of the pack or the straps once I'd adjusted it correctly. Even though I had on extra "weight," it didn't feel uncomfortable or heavy.

And let me tell you how awesome it was to have water on the run- so glorious, especially in the summer heat! I took this pack on a three and a half mile run and probably drank about a quarter of what it holds (two liters). I was a little worried there would be sloshing as the pack lost water but I didn't notice a thing. The hose was a perfect length for me- the pack came with a recommendation to cut it to a shorter length, but I preferred the original length. It was easy to use and easy to drink from on the run.

After having success on the run with the pack, I took it for a bike ride. It was even better on the bike, mainly because you have so many more storage options that you usually don't while riding a bike. Now I'm not much of a bike rider, but I do enjoy it on vacation. I can easily see this pack being used repeatedly on future trips when biking or hiking is involved- it carries water and so much more.

The perfect accessory for holding all your crap while on a bike. 

Overall, I can see this pack becoming a main staple in my training runs. I loved the option of having water with me and having so many extra pockets and pouches to store food, keys, my phone, etc. It was comfortable, adjustable, and easy to use.

And while I didn't use this feature, it actually has a safety whistle built into one of the front straps. As a female runner who often runs alone, this feature gives me extra piece of mind while I'm training solo- and the fact that this pack easily stores my mace in a place that can be readily accessible. πŸ˜„

If you've been looking for a hydration pack that is comfy and useful, take a closer look at the Endurance Hydration Pack from OrangeMud. There are tons of runners and hikers that use and love this brand- and it's easy to see why! From the storage options to the low-profile design, this is an awesome way to carry your water- and anything else!- with you on the run!

See more of their models and options here: orangemud.com.

How do you stay hydrated in the summer months?

Friday, May 25, 2018

Race Recap & Review: Pittsburgh 5k

Earlier this month, I ran the 5k during the Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend as part one of the Steel Challenge: complete the 5k on Saturday and any race on Sunday (half, full, or relay) and earn extra bling for being a runner of steel.

Flat runner for a 3.1 mile journey through Pittsburgh.

Saturday morning in Pittsburgh brought high humidity but cool temperatures- it made for an absolutely gorgeous sky.

Good morning, Yinz!

Before the race, I went to the We Run Social meet-up and chatted with new (and old!) friends. I love pre-race meet-ups because they help keep my mind off any nervousness I have going on. Even though I had no time goals for this race, I was still having a bout of pre-race nerves. Sometimes it just happens. 😩

Running + friends = best day ever.

As the race start time (8 AM) got closer, Matthew and I decided to make a port-o-potty run. We headed towards the bathrooms (and the starting corrals) like we've done for each of the other four years we've run this race and we realized something- the starting line was going in the complete opposite direction as we thought it would be!

This year the marathon was celebrating its 10th year and (I guess?) in celebration of a decade of running, the 5k course was 100% backward from what it's been the last four years we've done it.

So, we were standing in the port-o-potty line that was actually at the very front of the race instead of in the very back of the race. Luckily for us, the line went quickly and we had enough time to pee and then walk all the way to the starting corrals.

Matthew and I decided to run this race separately as he wanted to run for time. I dropped him off in the middle of the pack with the rest of our ohana, grabbed a quick selfie, and then made my way towards the back of the pack to start.

Do we look ready to race? Because we totally are.

Just after 8 AM, I crossed the start line and began my 5k route through the city. Basically, this course was the exact opposite of the course in years past. I actually really liked not quite knowing where I was going- it makes the race more unpredictable and exciting for me!

The course featured the same sweeping views of the city as it always had, just from another angle. There were also fewer bridges this year; I believe we only crossed one due to some construction in the downtown area blocking the other bridges. Regardless, I loved the new course.

Does it get much better than this?

I also quite literally ran into friends Lauren and Chelsea towards the end of the race. I was able to grab a few photos of them before crossing the bridge and heading to the finish line.

Love seeing friendly faces on the course.

Almost there!

I gave one last final push to finish the race and crossed the line in 33:53, average pace of 10:32 minutes per mile. For once, I actually negative split appropriately! 11:08/10:46/10:14 splits. I felt really good after the race and was proud of the fact that I had a race strategy and executed it well. Though I had no specific time goal, I did want to have negative splits and an overall pace under 11:30- done and done.

Will run for bling.

After collecting my medal and bottle of water and meeting up with Matthew and our running ohana, we headed through the Finisher's Festival and down to Point State Park to relax a bit before heading back to Steff and Joe's house- our awesome friends who always host us for Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend.

I'm a sucker for a good fountain.

With the half marathon the next day, we spend the rest of Saturday hanging out and then had a low-key dinner at Steff and Joe's with new and old friends.

I really enjoyed the new 5k course this year and loved having a fun way to shake out my legs before the second part of the Steel Challenge- a 13.1 mile journey through the meanest hills of Pittsburgh. This race is definitely a great addition to Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend- if you're ever in Pittsburgh during the first weekend in May, this is one not to be missed!

What's one of your favorite 5k races?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Accountability Tuesday: 5/8/2018

Good morning, friends!

Hope your week is off to a great start! Here's short recap of what's been going on in my world over the last week:

Wednesday: Jillian Michaels "Ripped in 30" week 2 workout
Saturday: Pittsburgh 5k, 33:47
Sunday: Pittsburgh Half Marathon, 2:30:01

I'll write a full recap later but- I ran my second fastest half marathon EVER! My last mile was a 9:47! :-)

The past few weeks I've been trying to incorporate at least two "other" workouts into my week. When I ran Pittsburgh in 2015, I felt the best I'd ever felt during a marathon and I attribute that to cross-training and strength-training. So while my training for Pittsburgh 2018 wasn't perfect, the fact that I was able to squeeze in some other workouts (mainly Jillian Michaels) I think contributed significantly to the fact that I was able to run my fastest half in 4+ years. I know I still have some speed left in these legs; now to just let it out and see how fast I can really go!

Steel Challenge #5 complete.

Best Run
The Pittsburgh 5k was PERFECT: beautiful weather, fun new course, high fives from a bunch of cute kids (and a dog!), gorgeous views of the city, and negative splits. All-around awesome if you ask me.

How could you not love a run with views like this?!

Bravo Moment
The scale is finally responding to the effort I feel like I'm making- and I couldn't be happier or prouder of myself. Weight loss and weight maintenance is one of those things that never gets easier- I will always struggle with my weight. But, I can have control over most of the things that affect my health/weight so I will continue to do what it takes to stay healthy.

Quote of the Week
This week's quote is from the hilarious - and sometimes wise- Steve Martin:

How accurate is this, right?

Have an awesome week, friends!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

{almost} Wordless Wednesday

Hi friends! It's the middle of the week which means... Friday is close!

In lieu of missing a few Accountability Mondays, today's post is a little visual representation of what's been happening in my world over the last two weeks.

Wanna eat vanilla icing on your run? Try this limited-edition GU- tastes just like birthday cake icing!
Thanks for the sample, StrideBox

Fastest 5K EVER! Now to just do it in a race. 😏

Seen on my run last week. Grateful to finally see the sun.

That finish line feeling sometimes looks like agony. πŸ˜‚
Trailfest 2018 should have been called Sufferfest 2018. More on that in a future post.

Extra thankful for this guy (and craft beer) these days.

Have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"Keep Showing Up"

In case you missed one of the most dramatic and inspiring Boston Marathon finishes on Monday, lemme fill you in- Desiree Linden won the women's race becoming the first American Woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. 33. Freaking. Years!

Source and more details at Runner's World.

What's even more impressive about Des's win is that she's run 14 marathons in the last 11 years, coming in second place in several major races: Boston, Chicago, and the US Olympic Trials. A few years ago she missed winning the Boston Marathon by mere seconds.

But she kept at it. She kept running and training and striving towards her goal of winning one of the World Marathon Majors. No matter how many races she didn't win, she kept trying.

And on Monday she did it! On a cold and rainy day, after slowing down to help out her US teammates, after considering dropping out of the marathon- she won the damn race!

Watching her performance solidified for me why I love the sport of running so much. The grit, tenacity, and perseverance that runners demonstrate, day in and day out, is awe-inspiring.

I think Des herself sums it up best:

Des also did something else this week- she helped confirm some running dreams of mine.

As a back-of-the-pack runner, I will probably never qualify to run the Boston Marathon. I may never break a 5 hour marathon. A sub-30 5k may be out of my reach.

But I'm still going to show up. To every race, to every workout, to every training session.

And I'm abso-freaking-lutely going to run another marathon.

After my Unofficial Goofy Challenge in January, I wasn't sure if I wanted to run another marathon. My last 26.2 mile adventure left me feeling two things equally- "Holy hell, this sucks and everything hurts and I don't want to do this anymore" and "I want to run another one- and run it fast."

I'm 99% sure I'll be registering for the 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon. I like this race, I love Disney World, and I'm confident I can run a fast (for me- sub 5:30) marathon in January 2019.

This summer/fall training cycle, I'm going to show up. Repeatedly. Every damn day. And I am going to run my fifth marathon in 2019.

Training will be hard. It will hurt. Sometimes, it'll downright suck. Some days, I'll question my ability to run long distances. But I'm going to keep showing up.

Putting this out into the universe is scary; what if I can't make good on my goals? What if I get injured, again? What if all the wheels fall off and I can't finish the race I trained for?

Honestly, the answer is so, so simple. Like Des said, "Keep showing up." ❤

What are you going to "keep showing up" for?

Monday, April 9, 2018

Accountability Monday: 4/9/2018

Good morning and welcome to another Monday!

I've secretly always liked the start of a week- a fresh new beginning; another chance to do whatever it is you feel like you need to do. :-) Cheers to the start of a great week!

Wednesday: 3.1 mile run, 10:54 pace
Saturday: 3 mile hike; 2 mile run, 11:49 pace

We spent the weekend in the Pocono Mountains and even though it was frigid- temps in the 30's- it was absolutely beautiful in the forest. Trail running is quickly becoming my favorite spring activity.

If you're in the market for an awesome trail shoe- check out the Altra Timp. Heavenly.

Best Run
Wednesday's run was incredibly windy- 40+ mph gusts! But I managed to have negative splits and felt pretty awesome: 11:11/11:09/10:25. I also took the new Altra Duos out for the second time and I really, really like this shoe. The sole is very stiff but feels super responsive and bouncy- these are definitely a short-distance, road-warrior shoe. Can't wait to see how these do in a race!

This wind was INTENSE.

Bravo Moment
I tracked, planned, and portioned all my food last week and it paid off- I lost 2.2 pounds!

Quote of the Week
Life, just like weight loss or running, is best experienced with a little patience. It was awesome to be out in the woods this past weekend, soaking up every moment of peace and calm I could from Mother Nature; being among the trees gives me much-needed perspective.

Have a calming, patience-filled week, friends!